How often have you found yourself engaged in the same reoccurring patterns of conflicts? Where you witness someone engage in offensive behavior, which leads to your feelings of aggravation, which in turns leads to you retaliating in some form? Part two of the cycle starts off with the other person witnessing your retaliation, feeling aggravated and then retaliating against you.
This type of pattern plays out in our personal relationships and workplaces either with a co worker or a boss. So how do you bring it to an end? There is a ubiquitous saying that states; “”you will continue to go through what you are experiencing, until you learn the lesson from what you are experiencing””.
For those who have felt bullied from childhood, how well do you handle an obnoxious co worker? For those who never made peace with their parents, how well do you handle a spouse whose behaviors remind you of a parent?
Trauma is any relative catastrophic experience which we never imagined we would experience. It’s no wonder that most small traumas are experienced by children, and many of them consciously carry them into adulthood. Furthermore, most traumas are internalized in the brain stem. The brain stem, popularly known as the reptilian brain, is responsibly for a good deal of our automatic physiological functions. Functions such as breathing, body temperature and responding to being startled. So it’s no surprise that a majority of trauma is stored in this part of the brain, it’s almost like the brain’s way of wanting to hold unto this memory, so it has to be better prepared for a repeat of the experience.
Given the automated function of the brain stem, it’s method of reasoning is too simplistic for issues that call for complicated reasoning. So typically what happens is that brain re-creates the trauma only to respond in the same manner every time. People can and do recover from trauma, but that process involves coming to depersonalize and accept the trauma for what it is while creating a virtual or abstract scenario, where you get to respond differently. Doing so allows you to use your frontal cortex in recovering from the trauma, an area of the brain most adapted for problem solving.
Easier said than done, but very possible. One of the most important techniques for interrupting the vicious cycle of fight or flight is to do nothing when you are triggered or feel tempted to retaliate. Doing nothing does not only mean choosing to not retaliate, but it also means no over indulgence in vices, such as food, sex drugs, etc, etc.
Doing nothing means being perfectly still and allowing your body and mind to allow the overwhelming feelings of grief, pain and confusion to run its course until they subside.
So imagine what it would be like to not take what you perceive as an insult personally? How would your relationships be different? What would change?
All thoughts and feelings related to this post are most welcome, to include agreements and disagreements.
Ugo is a psychotherapist owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling practice based in Tucson AZ.”,,,